Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unemplawyed!

i remember when i lost my mind:
there was something so pleasant about that place!
even your emotions have an echo in so much space....


Why is this song, like, twenty times better than it should be? Maybe it's just the undeniable pleasure of learning that Cee-Lo has a lovely voice. Plus, taken as a whole, it's very nearly the perfect anthem for the end of nearly eight months (!) of frustration, perspiration, regression, and, occasionally, depression.

Maybe you noticed the title change?

That's right, dear readers: it's just about time to register www.emplawyed.com! (It's available!) I couldn't think of any subtler way to do this, so I'll just put it out there: I'm about to accept an offer from an immigration firm downtown. The location (note the proximity to the Common) is better than I'd ever hoped for, the work is interesting, and it pretty well fits the description of what was looking for (and had starting to despair of ever finding) at the beginning of all of this so many months ago: public interest work that actually uses the law to benefit individuals, in downtown Boston, with a solid balance of writing and courtroom opportunities.

The offer came the same day as my formal rejection letters from the firm I was excited about in my last post (had a nice callback interview, but there was still plenty of competition) and the Essex County D.A.'s office, so I couldn't help feeling like someone was maybe trying to tell me something.

Anyway, I've had a great month all around... much too good to blog. Hiring seems to have really picked up from the dead zone that it was in for the couple of months after the new year, and I've scored quite a few interviews that--again with the superstition--I just haven't dared to blog. Including, of course, this last one. (C. also had a great month: she got an excellent offer for next year, but I probably shouldn't share the details here, since they're not mine to disclose.)

Anyway, thanks so much to the friends, family, and concerned strangers who have kept me more or less sane through all of this. I never thought it would take this long, but your colletive grace and patience gave me a lot of the strength I needed.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Awful Feels Softer


"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
--The Decider


And you should know by now that when we talk about "tomorrow" here at Unemplawyed, we're really talking about "next month." FYI.

Thanks, as always, for visiting. May I offer you some ketchup (note the made-in-Amurrica spelling) with yer frrreedehm fr-eyes? Better yet, why don't you sample some fresh, sharp, finely-aged Neil Young?

Man. Neil. Yeah, I think that aneurysm actually made him even better, if that's possible. Seriously, it's about time somebody got this angry. Especially someone who is able to put a name on evil (see the 100%-red-state-approved "Let's Roll") and then go on to apply the same unforgiving lens to the best and most unashamedly straightforward protest song on the only mainstream protest album yet to be released in these accursed times--and really, really mean it (just as sincerely as he means the heavenly reclaiming of "America the Beautiful" he caps the record with) both times. Read both sets of lyrics and give this new one a serious listen (especially "Looking for a Leader") before you write him off as just another hate-blinded Bush-burner. It's nothing new, anyway: He's pretty much had the same message for the past forty years. Now if his hoarse preaching were just about 30% catchier, it might manage to catch on with someone who's not already in the choir. Well, whatever. Gotta take what we get, these days.

New business:

The shot above is only a small portion of the actual panorama (taken directly from their website) available from every window of the firm I interviewed with last week on the Charles. I hadn't actually previously considered "the view" as one of the factors to be weighed in looking at places to work, but I kind of have to after this experience. It was hard to be objective about everything I was being told about the place as my eye kept drifting back to the window.

Nice place, though. Solid mid-sized firm with a good general practice and immediate needs. It was easily the longest interview I've ever had, ever (about an hour), and I know I'm jinxing it just by mentioning it here, but I couldn't help it.

Oh, and I'm also writing law school study aids for some upstart New York textbook publisher. Sounds fun, I know, but it's mostly just like getting paid to care (a lot) about law school classes that you really never needed to study for. Gotta wonder what kind of a person is going to buy--let alone use--the pabulum I'm churning out here, though. Seriously, if you need me to hold your hand and walk you through every case in your professional responsibility casebook (let alone if you're actually READING every case in your professional responsibility casebook), you've got bigger problems than I can help you with. But I've already said too much.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Drink More Ovaltine

"Who Was Captain Ahab's First Mate?" (Skip to next section for news)

Unlike most people participating in the Starbucks Crossword Challenge--people who picked up one of the crosswords each week for six weeks--I got all 7+ of the puzzles in the mail at once and blazed through them in a weekend. In the middle of this 48 hours of obsession, C. suggested that she would like to rent a polar bear, saddle him up, ride him down I-95, and direct him to eat Will Shortz as he smirks around his parkview penthouse giggling about the puzzling masses yearning to solve free. I thought that was a little harsh, at the time, but now I think I'd be willing to put up the safety deposit. (Not that I could afford it, but still. I'd be willing.)

Anyway, the question in bold above was what this whole thing came down to. That's right: after nearly seven weeks of complex (and, admittedly, fun) multi-stage puzzles, hard-working cruciverbalists everywhere were dismayed to find that the final answer WAS THE NAME OF THE COMPANY SPONSORING THE CONTEST. Very "Christmas Story," as more than one person has already noted in these furious hours of postgame blogalysis. I just hope that the yahoo who guessed (and it *had* to have been a guess--the tiebreaker puzzle was really awful, and there's no way you could have actually deduced the question from it in the ten minutes it took for the contest to end) didn't actually put an "S" on the end. I think I might just have a polar bear with your name on it, buddy.


Something more relevant:
So this most recent D.A. interview went pretty well, considering. I'll blog some of the hypos more specifically later, but I did want to mention the very last question. It was something that would not be unreasonable to ask would-be prosecutors in most jurisdictions, but one that should present a real surprise for any Massachusetts interviewee:

"And, finally: What do you think about the death penalty?"

Huh. Talk about a safe answer... the Commonwealth hasn't seen any need to kill off its own citizens for nearly half a century. This state is home to the nation's oldest anti-death penalty group (founded, with commendable foresight, in 1928), and the very first ruling handed down from the Massachusetts Bay Colony's nascent supreme court in 1692 was to pardon the remaining condemned from the infamous witch trials.

So I went with the truth: I'm completely, unequivocally, thoroughly and unapologetically against killing people. Killing is killing is killing. Here's my sermon:

No one could ever possibly heed all Ten Commandments in the course of a lifetime, but I'm not about to be a party to violating the only one that most of us should (fingers crossed) be able to manage not to trample on in our lives: THOU SHALT NOT KILL. (Yes, I know that might be better translated "murder," but I still have my own reasons for believing that it applies here--and besides, this is neither the time nor the place to be getting all exegetical on me. At least wait 'til I'm done preaching at you.) I think that a serious and demonstrated respect for human life--whether that life be the most innocent or the most unimaginably reprehensible--is one solid indicia (yes, the word "indicia" actually slipped out in the interview; sadly, my subconcious is just as pretentious as the rest of me) of civilization.

If it were up to me, no one--not any of the Nuremberg defendants, not Saddam, not Manson, not Bundy, not Scott Peterson, not Osama, most assuredly not Zacarias Moussai, and maybe not even Lay and Skilling--anywhere would ever be executed. I have my reasons. It's one reason that I could never be a federal prosecutor, at least until some future Supreme Court finally rules capital punishment unconstitutional. (In my lifetime? Guys? Please?)

So I told them as much, minus (I hope) the preaching. This seemed to go over pretty well, and it was only at this point that I was told that the D.A. is a strong anti-capital punishment advocate. Aaaand... we're breathing again. Admittedly, that could have been pretty bad. I mean, Our Governor already wants to bring state-sponsored killing back with a vengeance--I guess the Book of Mormon doesn't include the Sixth Commandment?--and there can't be that many American D.A.'s willing to take a strong stance against it. But it's not like I was going to lie.

That's more than enough for now. More tomorrow.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Speak, Friend, and Enter.

As a dedicated cruciverbalist and compulsive sweepstakes enterer, I couldn't help but fall for puzzle superstar Will Shortz's new Starbucks/NYT-branded Coffeehouse Crossword Challenge. Seriously, kids, this thing is not for amateurs: six nearly-NYT-grade puzzles, plus an actual Sunday NYT puzzle, plus a series of complicated mini/meta-puzzles with their own challenges. (The journey also included some Morse Code, cryptography, and easy trivia questions.) I took on the whole thing this weekend and finally just now put it together and had my moment of truth. (No, I am not telling you how. It was just too much fun finding it for myself, and I wouldn't want to cheat you. I will say that it was kind of a Mines of Moria thing, as noted by this blog that I discovered a little too late to be of use.) So now I'm totally ready for the tiebreaker on Tuesday. I think.

And now I'm wondering: Why did I just post all of that? This blog is really straying. Well, whatever. If nothing else, it'll boost my Google search rank a bit later tonight as the stragglers try to catch up before the deadline. Good luck, stragglers. May you suffer just a little less than I did.

Anyway, this was all a nice way to keep my mind off of this afternoon's second interview with the Essex D.A.'s office. I'm told that the whole thing is just a panel shooting hypotheticals at you. This is a pretty common tactic for interviews with prosecutors everywhere, I guess, which makes me wonder why someone out there hasn't come up with a list of popular hypos that one might expect at such an interview. Maybe I'll be that person, if I'm in a good mood when I get home.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy Evacuation Day!

Yes, today, March 17, is an official holiday here in the Boston area, one that is taken very seriously--if not entirely soberly. (College students seem to be its most dedicated celebrants, which is commendable: it's always nice to see our nation's young scholars take an active interest in historical causes.) It commemorates the end of the colonial siege of Boston and, as of this year, the 230th anniversary of the peaceful retreat of King George's army from one of the most important ports of the New World. (They never came back.)

Sadly, however, this kind of orderly exodus is bound to be a one-time historical event. Given the current preparedness plans--namely, mayor Menino's infamously pointless evacuation signs cheerfully pointing the way to nowhere--I don't see how it's ever going to be repeated.

Oh, and: for some reason, Irish Americans in Boston get especially excited about Evacuation Day. I guess they didn't like the British any more than the rest of us, but still. I'm sure someone can explain it to me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

incompossibilities

My ethical qualms may remain (see below), but I can't complain about the work I'm getting from this firm. It's all improbably interesting, and pleasantly variegated.

In the past couple of weeks, I've thoroughly analyzed an IRS proceeding, written two motions to suppress (one in federal court) as well as a motion in opposition to a motion to attach real estate, drafted a non-disclosure/non-compete agreement involving a major European corporation, and learned more than I ever cared to about possible tort issues involved in the transmission of a relatively minor sexually transmitted disease. Not bad for part-time work. More as it happens.

Oh, and I don't to hear about the typo in my heading. Look it up, jabbernowl...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Approaching the bench

I made my very first ever appearance in court today. It was a simple enough case--on paper, anyway--but still terrifying in that way that doing big things for the first time--let alone being expected to do them virtually blind--can be. The total suprise didn't help much.

Got a call from the attorney I've been doing research work for this morning requesting that I meet him in Suffolk Superior Court (that'd be the distinctly Orwellian 16-story monolith near Boston's Government Center) to be with a couple of clients ("I just need someone to hold their hands") before and after a grand jury proceeding in which they'd be taking the Fifth. Of course, that's not really what happened. I should have known that trouble was coming when he took off immediately after the clients arrived.

Through a convoluted series of events that I can't really talk about here, I was knowingly placed in a situation in which I would have to end up having to head off a very real potential ethical problem by appearing in front of a Superior Court judge and having our clients assigned new counsel. Which, again, sounds easy. And should be. But it's not until you actually have to do something as manifestly practical--and undeniably overwhelming--as actually enter a courtroom with clients (not to mention a lingering sense that you've narrowly avoided being used for unethical ends) about whom you know virtally nothing that you realize just how little you've learned in your past three years of legal education. Things like where to stand, how to informally address the opposing party (friendly? tough? understanding? flexible? stonewalling? these all seem to be appropriate at different times), when to look appropriately concerned, when to attempt conversation with your client (especially in your nervous, limited, really-I-can-write-it-so-much-better-than-I-speak-it espanol guero), and just how intimidating even the nicest of judges can be the first time you approach the bench.

Again, I wish I could say more about the circumstances; they were really all very amusing a couple of hours after it was all over. I will say that I'm still pretty annoyed about being intentionally placed in the ethical quandary in which I found myself this morning, however, and couldn't help feeling as if I was being tested to see if I were willing to make the wrong choice and live with it. I was not, and am not. (Forgive me just a sentence worth of self-righteousness: if that's really the kind of person they want doing this job, I'm not going to be there long. Okay. THank you.)

Oh, and I'm still drafting my thoughts on the Hussein trial, and will share them soon enough. I'm totally right. You'll see.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Happiness writes white.

Turns out you never know just how many people are reading your blog until you promise to post something "tomorrow" (you will now note the retroactive amendment to "next time") and don't follow through. Thanks, everyone. I love you, too.

I still plan to spend some time here comparing the speculations of my law school thesis on the serious problems facing the proposed plan for the Hussein trial against the inevitable realities of the Saddam and Friends Funtime Genocide Show Trial Hour currently on hold in Baghdad, but bigger things have come up since. I ended up spending most of last weekend researching and writing a motion to suppress for one of the firms I interviewed with ("We Know What You Want," Entrevistas!, infra) for a high-profile federal white-collar criminal defense case. I worked really hard, stayed really obsessive about it, and was summarily rewarded earlier today with the promise of all the work I want from them at a very nice hourly rate. To review: good money, no strict commitment, interesting work, and the freedom to set my own hours and do everything from home. There's also the long-term possibility of an offer if things work out. So, yeah. Pretty much everything anyone could want while they're still looking for full-time work.

The criminal case was sexy stuff: wiretapping, money laundering, flagrant government misconduct, etc. The most recent assignment is largely a lost cause: salvaging some kind of opposition for the government's motion to dismiss in a tax case in which--frankly speaking--any federal court should have every right to toss. But that's why litigation is (or can be) so much fun... there's always a response to everything.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

All is full of love...


Twist your head around--
it's all around you.
All is full of love,
all around you.

--Björk Gudmundsdottir

(The album version is weak tea next to the lovely video-only remix, which is the loveliest love song to come out of Iceland. Download it now.)

So, yeah. I wish you all love. Or--if not love--at least something short of a faceful of birdshot.

Next time: Why I was totally right--and the American government totally wrong--about the Hussein trial.

Monday, February 13, 2006

¬°Entrevistas!

I know I've been slacking on this topic, so let's compare and contrast some recent experiences, shall we?

INTERVIEW #1: WE KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

First take: I think half the interview was testing my ability to meet the guy in his Quincy office (although the job, happily enough, is in Boston) at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. So I guess I passed that part.

Basically: Interesting small firm with a strong reputation, a former MA AG on the letterhead, and a lot of government business.

But: Hints of dissent among the ranks. Long explanation of compensation structure. (Which is positive, I guess? Never had this happen before.) Interviewer almost totally unable to make eye contact with me, despite my recent ability to overcome my own overwhelming aversion to same for convenient one-hour increments as needed.

Left it with:
Request for a writing sample. Strong possibility that they would try me out by having me work on some federal briefs. Hint that interviewer was the only partner strongly in favor of taking on new and untested talent.

Final impression: Cautious optimism. Also, tired. So very tired.


INTERVIEW #2: WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE


First take: Founder invented Digital Angel, the controversial tracking chip that is powered by the human bloodstream, can broadcast any amount of information within certain given parameters--age, race, exact location, current heartrate, favorite Star Trek episode, etc.--to orbital satellites, and really pretty much exactly fits every speculation about how the Mark of the Beast (go ask Kirk Cameron, kids; I don't have time for this just now) is supposed to operate. So that's, y'know, kind of sexy.

Basically: Small firm with a very attractive Cambridge office and a steady stream of unexceptional cases. Plenty of court time, and a lot of experience to be gained immediately.

But: Cambridge office is tiny, with only two other attorneys. I only met my interviewer, and liked him immediately, but this could still be a problem. Also, no billables, which is great in that my life wouldn't be reduced to fifteen-minute increments, but may not bode well for general quality of cases handled.

Left it with: Quick office tour, some good-natured Digital Angel jokes, and strong callback possibilities.

Final impression: Fully expecting a callback, and wouldn't be surprised at an offer. Good place to gain a lot of experience very quickly for anywhere up to a year.

So there you go. Probably telling more than I should, but I know that these are just the kinds of details that keep you coming back. Both of you.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"Factor" this!

No word from the O'Reilly machine. Which means: I win. And you, sir, are a COWARD.

I guess it could have been worse, though, since I gave him my number and all: the man's an infamous drunk-dialer, with a libidinal imagination (falafel, anyone? I'd link to this, but someone has to think of the children) that belies the moralistic, grandfatherly character he plays on his nightly sitcom. Anyway, if half of the things alleged in last year's sexual harrassment suit last year were true, he's infinitely more creepy than our last President ever was. At least women liked Clinton. (Well, most of them. But sexual harrassment is a total numbers game: there's always going to be one Paula Jones for every few dozen Monicas, right? Right.)

Anyway. I just had to refocus my annoyance, as I'm still getting over the sudden death of my laptop. I think the motherboard's probably fried--the Dell guy's coming out later this week to replace it--which means that this unlimited warranty thing has already paid for itself.

Two interviews last week, both of which felt pretty good. More about these next time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A note on anonymity

I think I've mentioned this in the past, but I'm trying to keep this whole process as anonymous as possible, for reasons I would hope would be obvious. Paranoia breeds certainty, sort of, and I need all the certainty I can manufacture right now.

Implications:

1) I can't allow comments that mention my name or reveal too much identifying information. This is why even some of the best-intentioned comments have been screened out right along with the stalker-y ones.
2) I can't tell you more than a cursory summary of places I've interviewed, and--just to be safe--I can't really tell you anything but good things about these places... unless, of course, I have no intention of working there. (See "Interview with the Soul Vampires," infra.) I've actually left out several interviews in the past few months, simply because I really wanted the jobs and didn't want to compromise my chances.
3) This post will self-destruct in thirty seconds...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cheerfully Improbable Classified Headlines, Vol. 8

Linguists Needed Immediately!

(Thanks, once again, to the Craigslist "etcetera" section.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bloviating with Bill

Bill O'Reilly, ever the practical joker, is pretending that he wants people who disagree with him to drop by the studio and "debate" him. (Translation: plenty of shouting, lots of derisive laughter and maybe, just maybe, your own little Jeremy Glick moment [watch this, if you haven't; watch it again, if you have]--oh, and the "Factor"'s crack post-production team reserves the right to edit you down to his level.)

But, still. How could anyone resist an offer like that? Here's my proposal:

Mr. O'Reilly--

I had the singular opportunity to watch the "Factor" almost nightly this summer while on the treadmill at the gym, and I can personally testify that your show provided me with more adrenalin (and, ultimately, more motivation) than any workout video ever could have. I lost ten pounds this summer, and I just wanted to thank you up front for your part in that. Have you ever considered doing a special "O'Reilly Fat-Burning Factor"? ("Fat, you're on notice: You've entered the 'So Thin Zone'!") (And yes: I'm keeping a copy of this email in a safe place in case you ever do. I want at least 10%.)

I appreciate the gentlemanly spirit of the offer that you are making to those of us who disagree with your perspective on various issues, and I would like to respectfully accept it in the same spirit. I would very much like to have a conversation with you--free, if possible, from sweeping generalizations or personal attacks on either side--and I would like that conversation to center on the continuing detention of foreign nationals on territory under "complete jurisdiction and control" of the United States.

I believe that the existence and three-years-and-counting operation of the American detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay will be recorded to history as a tragic mistake, one easily as misguided as the detention of Japanese-American citizens during the Second World War or the abduction and forced education of Native American children in the late 19th century. As a progressively-minded, NASA-loving, American Christian who believes in the strength and wisdom of our great Constitution, it pains me to see my country being so quick to take up the undemocratic, lowminded tactics of the enemy--especially given just how inhumane and ideologically inferior this enemy is.

The intentional creation of a zone beyond the scope of U.S. or international law simply for the purpose of indefinitely "detaining" (and, very probably, torturing) "terror suspects"--many of them abducted from the streets of Western nations--should send up a red flag in the mind of any American worthy of his passport. I am not suggesting that everyone in Camp Delta is wholly innocent, or even that some of these men haven't actively taken up arms against my country. I am merely suggesting that perhaps they should have have an opportunity to be charged with something or--at the very least--have an opportunity to be told under what evidence they are being held in perpetuity in conditions somewhat slightly less glamorous than the "Club Gitmo" that Mr. Limbaugh so cheerfully describes. This is not a new or shocking suggestion: it is a basic courtesy that every Western democracy extends to its prisoners. If we are truly to effectively spread democratic freedoms in the Middle East and beyond, shouldn't our government be providing the best possible example? Just a thought.

Having spent some time on this issue, I am fully prepared to discuss (and, yes, even debate) as much of the relevant law (including the applicable Geneva Conventions and the recent Supreme Court and DC District Court decisions), facts, and known issues on this subject as you would like to get into. I am willing to do this because I believe that I am not the only moderately-inclined voter who feels that this is one of the most important issues facing our country today, and because I have always secretly wanted to meet you.

I eagerly await your considered response.